|Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want|
Charles Dickens is a personal hero. He's not my favorite author, but there is a special place for him somewhere in my mind/metaphorical heart. He is aware. He acknowledges and articulates the less savory aspects of life. Brave is the conscientious solder, so heavy is his metal... I respect him, as I do so many other valiant masters of penmanship. However, I find myself suddenly, during this holiday season, very much at odds with his iconic A Christmas Carol. In the book, the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals the two wretches of mankind: Ignorance and Want. I mean, spot on. Bravo, Chuck. Bravo. These are, unfortunately two of my "weaknesses."
I am ignorant. Not uneducated, but ignorant of a great many things that other people take for granted, as I shall soon explain. Ironically, the only method that I can find to combat my present ignorance is to commit the other one of Dickens' cardinal sins and want. I remain landlocked by inexperience simply because I never learned to want, to ask, and more explicitly to believe that I should nor would ever be able to obtain the objects of my heart's desire. So, I do not want. You don't want, you aren't unfulfilled. It's greedy anyway...
I have never know anything but self-reliance. Obviously, part of this was instigated by the vicious brain chemicals that told me there is no one on God's green earth that gives a damn whether I live or die, so if I want to get by, I'm gonna half to hack on my own. Naturally, I had some financial assistance from the parents the first couple decades, but in terms of emotional and psychological maintenance, that was my own deal. My ace up the sleeve was stubborn pride. My sole survivalism was my way of giving the unforgiving world the finger.
Life experience pummeled the other 50% of this truth into me. To summarize, there was a situation that occurred within the family that demanded a great deal of attention when I was younger. It slowly grew into a pressure cooker, nearly unmanageable, and was slowly driving us all in our separate ways insane. This went on for many years. Almost as long as I can remember. Everyone was at their wit's end, no one knew how to handle it. Somehow, I found myself stepping up and into the role of the moderator, soother, and even soothsayer. What I was led to believe was that everything was about to go "Crack!" I provided the glue. Problem solved. And, problem begun...
|Hamlet (Laurence Olivier) greets his old Court Jester Pal.|
Servitude: it don't earn ya' nothing in the end.
I have no regrets about my choices as a child-adolescent-teenager. I did what I did thinking it best, and I did it to myself. I allowed myself to be put into the position of social servant. On the one hand, it made me feel needed. I was helping people. I was keeping the family together. On the other hand, I lost myself. I missed out on the formative years of being truly young, making mistakes, learning to play with boys, being vibrant, foolhardy, and free. I had no time for that. Time spent away from my place at the watchtower made me feel like a traitor. This gave me the perfect reason to indulge my depressions, isolate myself, and get lost in my own universe. I was there to protect, not to have fun or play games. Essentially, I aged from 4 to 45.
This built in me into the perfect soldier: indestructible, selfless, don't think, just do. I would have my "moments." Stress was a thing easily felt. My hazards were always on, my finger was always on the trigger, and I placed such responsibility on myself that I would occasionally cave. I had no peace. I hated school, socializing, and doing pretty much anything that required any further energy of me. I couldn't handle it. On days when this tension combusted, when I became unexpectedly emotional, I was assured that I was overreacting. My problems were not real problems, and no one could handle any more pressure anyway. I read into this honest dismissal that my feelings were counterfeit. Unimportant. This only empowered the voice inside that already said, "You don't matter."
So, after thirty years of conditioning, here I am. I am here to serve. I will not pollute you with my emotions. I will not share my deep, dark thoughts with you. I will not burden you. My thoughts are crazy, silly things that I indulge on my own. They are how I entertain myself in my private world. They have nothing to do with anyone else because a) no one wants them, and b) no one agrees with anything I have to say. (Would you believe that in 30 years, I haven't been right about one thing)? The message was clear: I was not to have a life of my own. I didn't deserve one. I was there to help. Everyone needed my help. I was the pillar. Help, by talking to your sister. Help, by doing the dishes. Help, by sitting there quietly and being dependable. Martyrdom: to want is a sin.
That's still where I am. I have to admit it. This took me by surprise, as I often think myself cured. The difference is, while my depression has been treated and kept at by, my learned behavior is still well ingrained. That takes work to undo, and a pill doesn't fix it. For example, my therapist recently asked me to sit down and compile a list of things that I "wanted." Not even big scheme things, just little, selfish things. Clothes, shoes, a massage, etc. Easy, I thought... You have no idea how hard it was to write that list. It was very, very short. I couldn't think of anything. I live simply. I don't need to be spoiled. I don't need to be pampered. I need the clothes on my back and maybe some good music, a good book, and clearly this laptop. So, the list had about five things on it. It was shocking. Shit... I don't know how to want.
My ignorance, as in this case, is constantly intruded and hopefully decreased with similar realizations. I thought I was fixed! I'm so happy! I'm doing so well! I'm busy working hard, and being with friends, and I am satisfied with today. Sure, tomorrow is murky, but tomorrow's tomorrow. Who cares? Well, apparently I should. I should care what happens to me. I should make decisions that are based on more than pure survival and my own private catharsis. I've already tried to combat this a bit. I have been publishing little poems that I've written on Facebook, for one. That's not something I would have ever done before. I make myself do this, even though it makes me feel nauseous. I offer other examples of my writing to others at the risk of their critique, again something I would never do. Again, something that makes me feel nauseous.
|I should probably listen to this song more...|
At the same time, that's where my bravery ends. "Hey there! Maybe take a look at what I've done! Now put it in a drawer and let's not think about it again. 'kay?" I don't intend to do anything with these slivers of myself. I don't seek recognition. I don't imagine my words will lead to anything. It's not because I have a fear of failure. What I have is a fear of success. I don't deserve it. I try to think about having more money-- to buy my own place, or travel luxuriously, or buy clothes that aren't hanging on by a thread-- but I physically can't do it. I think, I don't need that much money. I can backpack and stay in a hostel... These underwear aren't that old... I think the issue is that I have been determined for too long to take less, so that others can have more. That has been the pattern of my life.
Take love. Seriously, take it, because I won't be using it. I don't deserve that either. Actually, I have a lot of love. The love I have to give, I give freely. I shower it. It is something I offer my family and friends, less as a kindhearted gesture than as a request. Please, let me give you a shoulder to cry on, because I don't have one, and I know how that hurts. Please, let me help you with your relationship, because I have never been loved, and I want you to enjoy what I can't have. Please, let me help you, because I know what it is to be alone with no one to lean on. Let me do something to make you feel special, because no one does that for me. Let me show up for you, because no one shows up for me. Let me fight for you, because no one fights for me. Let me stand you up and dust you off, because God oh God, how many times I have had to do that for myself, and it gets harder all the time.
People ask me sometimes, quite often actually, why I'm not married, or why I'm single, or why I don't have a boyfriend-- however they want to phrase it. It's not insulting to be accosted with this very intrusive question, however rude it may feel in the pit of the stomach, because people don't want a real answer. They want an admission that I know my status is incorrect and that I am steadfastly at work fixing it. The generally expected response would be for me to stand there twirling my hair and batting my eyes saying, "I don't know. Just haven't met the right guy I guess..." (Cute blush). ] Don't worry, I don't play that way. I tend to just shrug my shoulders, because how else can you respond? For a depressive, such a thing is not easy. You can't answer honestly. What are you supposed to say? Do they want you to get real with them? Throw it down, break it out, give them the full enchilada of beefy existential goo? "Why? Because I have never been loved by anyone, and I don't think I ever will be." I'd love to see the reaction on someone's face if I let that fly! Hahaha. Awwwwkwaarrrddd...
It's true, though. All the aforementioned things that created in me the isolated individual that I have become and am working to undo have also effected the romantic portion of my life, which is non-existent. It's not that I don't believe love exists. I don't think that the world's population would lie to me about it, although I am skeptical. I watch certain couples from the outside, and sometimes the fact that they are clearly miserable together is so transparent that it's shocking. I just want to bang their heads together and say, "Do yourselves a favor and set each other free already! Why give up on yourselves? You could be with someone who thinks you're awesome!" Or I ask a girlfriend about her boyfriend and she says, "Yeah, well... I dunno. He's ok. We'll see, I guess." Then three weeks later they're engaged. Eh? "Your shrugging the rest of your life away? Life should be extraordinary, you idiot! WTF!?" Then there's just the senseless bickering, couples picking at each other instead of confiding. I though your home life was supposed to be an escape from the petty bull shit? If this is "love," then I count myself luckily out.
However, I assume that these are the token exceptions that prove the rule. These are lost souls, not totally unlike myself, who aren't sure who they are yet and clearly aren't finding it with the person they're with. What they have that I don't is experience. I have never been gifted by another individual's reception of myself. I don't believe in myself enough to be believed in. I've tried to figure out the hows and whys over the years, but I no longer want to know. I'm at odds. Case closed. I'm just honored when I'm accepted as a friend. That's enough for me. (Here to serve). I'm happy living in my one-woman wolf pack. I don't need those touchy-feely things. Those are for real people. I have bigger plans, schemes, fish to fry, and that is a lie that's not a lie-- though the proportions have certainly increased over the years to compensate for the lack of emotional gravity in my life. No wonder I feel like I'm floating in orbit...
Rationally speaking, I know that I've always wanted a different kind of life, and it just so happens that no one has shared that opinion. And in all honesty, while I'm alone, I'm not lonely. I've accepted my plate and I eat off it with gratitude. Still, I am curious. What is all the whosy-whatsit about? What does it feel like to move as a unit? To have someone care about you beyond the fraternal level? What is it to matter to another human being? I shouldn't be surprised that no one has been able to break through my self-deprecating, stone cold exterior. Whether they opt out of trying because they instinctually knowing that I'm "not right" upstairs, or they think me odd, or ugly, or... smelly, or whatever, I don't know. These are things my fragile mental state can't handle.
Indeed, I can talk myself out of caring. I can keep my own reality at bay. It hurts less than it used to when I was younger. Much less. But it still does hurt, to have your mind, heart, soul, body, goodness, flaws, etc, go unrecognized and unaccepted for thirty years. Who wouldn't think there was something 'wrong' with them? This only encourages my belief that I don't exist. I am not the leading lady. I am the trickster figure. Perhaps that's why I'm such a hypocritical cheerleader. Live an extraordinary life, because I won't! Please!!! Let me feel like my sacrifices were worth it! And suddenly, I'm on a friggin' crucifix of my own making.
Yes, I need to get smart, shirk ignorance, and embrace want. I want to learn to want things. Want someone to hear me. Want someone to say, "You know what, you're absolutely right!" Want to be treated like I am perfectly acceptable as everything I am, despite my crazy theories about making the world a better place and taking anything with the name "Jersey" in the title off the air. Want to take a compliment and not twist it into mere politeness. Want respect. Want to respect myself. Want "success." Want to be a published writer instead of whatever it is I am. Want to have things just to have them... Greedy little things. Want attention. What help. Want to affect real change. Want to be told I'm not a waste of flesh by another voice than my own. Want to trust. Want to feel beautiful. Want to inspire. Want to be recognized. Want to be a person. Want to be..Hm, still can't say it. Still can't quite say the four-letter L word...
It's hard, so hard, to believe that someone can believe in you. Particularly when even on good days, at least in my case, you don't believe in yourself as much as you think you do. You start to lose your own reflection in the mirror. There's a disconnect. I see a girl. She's getting dressed. She has blond hair. But she's not me. I am the thing that moves. I wake up, I eat breakfast, I ride the train, I go to the museum, I eat lunch, I write, I go to the park, I walk there quietly, I stop at a bench, I write, I go get some ice cream, I enjoy it, it makes me happy, I ride home, I read a book, I go to bed. I am the thing that moves alone, and I am built to last. I live in a private universe where only I can deal with me, but not really, because I am a machine that only uses the necessary gadgets to make it go.
Want. I need to want. I want to connect. I want to pull a Whacko Jacko and talk to that girl in the mirror. I want her to be happy. I want to give her the life I never had. Again, no one is going to do it for me. I just have to put that old nose to the grindstone and get back in fighting gear, but this time it will be my own land I'm fighting for, promising my own victory, my own spoils, which will not be given to someone else to enjoy. I want the spoils. I WANT to win.